NEW YORK – The lunar calendar that Muslims follow for religious holidays is creating a potential for misunderstandings or worse in a year when American Muslims are already confronting a spike in assaults on their faith and protests against new mosques.
Eid al-Fitr, a joyous holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, this year falls around Sept. 11. Muslim leaders fear that their gatherings for prayer and festivities could be misinterpreted by those unfamiliar with Islam as a celebration of the 2001 terrorist strikes.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles, is contacting law enforcement and the Justice Department civil rights division to alert them to the overlap.
However, he and other American Muslim leaders don't want to make so many changes that they appear to be giving in to those who reject any Muslim observance in the United States. Some critics have said Muslims should move the date of the eid.
"It's like being offended that 9/11 and Christmas fall on the same day," said Safaa Zarzour, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America, an Indiana-based communal group with tens of thousands of members. "There is something unsettling about that."
Yvonne Maffei, 35, of Des Plaines, Ill., a Chicago suburb, said she and her husband plan to stick with their usual Eid al-Fitr plan. They will attend morning prayers at their local mosque, go out for brunch then visit friends during the day.